Divorce can be tricky to navigate. We offer these answers to most people's frequently asked questions.
In Florida, either spouse may file for divorce if the marriage is irretrievably broken, meaning there is no chance for reconciliation, or if one of the spouses has become mentally incapacitated for at least three years. Some key points for consideration:
Florida is an equitable distribution state. This means the court will distribute all marital property fairly, and will start with the assumption it will be divided equally. Marital property includes personal possessions, real property (such as your home), income and debts acquired during the marriage.
The court may divide property unequally if the facts justify it. Some of the factors the court will consider include the economic circumstances of the parties, the duration of the marriage, the contributions of each spouse to the home and children's education, and whether it would be in the children's best interest for one parent to stay in the marital home.
Florida courts may grant temporary or permanent alimony to a spouse who has an actual need for alimony, as long as the other spouse has the ability to pay. There are a number of circumstances the court will consider relevant for alimony determination. Two of the main factors include:
Florida courts use child support guidelines to determine what amount of child support is appropriate. One of the pivotal factors is the income of the parties. Child support payments continue until the child is 18, unless the court orders otherwise. The court will also make an order regarding health insurance coverage for the child and may order parents to share the costs of medical expenses not covered by insurance. Support payments can be made directly to the recipient parent or withheld from the paying parent's paycheck. To modify a child support order, a parent must show a substantial change in circumstances such as a significant change in income.
Florida courts determine child custody based on the best interests of the child without regard to the sex of the parent or the child. The court will order the parents to share parenting responsibilities unless shared responsibility would be detrimental to the child.
In making its determination, the court will evaluate several factors. These factors include which parent is more likely to allow frequent contact with the other parent, the emotional ties between each parent and the child, the parent's ability to provide the child with material needs, and the child's adjustment to home, school and community.
The judge will then make orders regarding the child's primary residence and visitation schedule with the other parent.
To modify a custody order, parents must show that there has been a substantial change in circumstances and that it would be in the child's best interest to change the custody plan.
If you have a matter involving family law issues, Pensacola attorney Stan Peeler has extensive experience in all facets of family law. A no-cost, no-obligation consultation is available to you at your convenience. Please email us or call us at 850-432-7705. We help clients in Pensacola and throughout the Florida panhandle.